The web hosting industry has been a major target for Entrepreneurs over the last two decades as the Internet has exploded into a tool that people around the world carry around in their pockets (via their smartphones).
This provides the opportunity to offer small businesses, individuals, and other organizations web space for their websites and make reoccurring income (a/k/a subscription revenue). Many successful web hosting businesses (such as HostGator, Blue Host, etc.) were able to get their start by Reselling Web Hosting.
Last week, I typed a blog titled Why 2018 Is The Best Year To Start A Web Hosting Business, where I go into detail about how the state has been perfectly set for Entrepreneurs, especially those looking to offer their customers a high quality hosting package.
In this post I want to give you detailed instructions on how you go about starting your own web hosting business in 2018.
Determine Your Niche
Given the web hosting “boom” there is a ton of competition out there!
Not to mention any individual armed with a Reseller hosting package along with WHMCS can have a fully functioning web hosting service online in under an hour.
Despite the massive amounts of competition you can still have success in the industry, but you need to narrow down your niche.
For example, at NameHero we primarily focus on providing hosting to Resellers. Outside of this we work with WordPress blogs for individuals and small businesses offering high-speed cloud hosting with free SSL. We also have a VPS hosting line that allows webmasters who have a high demand in terms of lots of visitors and resource usage.
We started with one niche (resellers) and then expanded out as we grew.
This is the way you should be looking at your business.
If I had to start over tomorrow, I would resell web hosting to small local businesses in service-related industries. I would also offer them monthly packages for web development, social media management, and search engine optimization.
Example Service Related Niches:
- HVAC (Heating/Cooling)
- Lawn Service
- Garage Door Repairs
- Handyman Services
- Local Restaurants
- Gardening Services
- Dog Walking Services
- Babysitters / Child Care
- Religious Organizations / Churches
- Private Schools
- Appliance Repairs
- Moving Services
- Rental Truck Services
- Speciality Lessons: Piano, Dance, Yoga, Personal Training
- Snow Removal
- Medical Services / Dr. Offices
The list can go on-and-on but you should pick a couple niches within an industry that makes “good money” so they can afford your services.
For example, most roofing contractors are paid by insurance companies after a roof sustains damage. These type contractors see a big influx of capital during the spring months when storms are hitting.
Establish Your Brand
Regardless the niche you decide on, you’ll want to expand as you get customers. As I said, with NameHero we initially started with Resellers, then began scaling outward as we got more customers.
Therefore you don’t want to establish your brand being too specific to anyone niche. I’ve seen some people make this mistake and have to go through the process of “re-branding” which can cost a lot of time and money.
I chose NameHero because it was generic and also didn’t contain the word “host.” I feel like to many other companies have done that in the past, so I wanted to be different.
Feel free to be creative, but pick something that’s easy to spell and easy to remember.
Once you come up with your brand you’ll want to do the following:
- Decided on your domain (Make sure it’s available, wait to register when setting up your account)
- Form the company legally (Get with a local lawyer or use a service such as LegalZoom)
- Open a company bank account that you can use to receive payments
Eventually you’ll need to get a logo made, print some business cards, etc. but I would save these steps for after you have your website up and running.
From my experience, you don’t want to burn out on the details early on. Get the essentials taken care of (legal and banking) and worry about the other stuff as you get things up and going.
Tip: If you’re having trouble finding a good domain name check out my guide here to finding premium ones for cheap.
Determine The Services You Will Offer
Obviously you’re wanting to offer web hosting as you wouldn’t be reading this long if you’re not.
However, if you’re really wanting to make a nice profit, you should consider extra services. This is going to be one of the best ways to maximizing your revenue while keeping your costs low.
- Website Design/Creation
- Social Media Management
- Search Engine Optimization
- Website Content/Updates
- Other Services
For example, if you have experiencing building websites with WordPress and adding custom plugins/themes, you probably want to offer this service.
You don’t have to be a professional web designer either. There are hundreds of thousands of premium WordPress themes out there you can use, you just need to be able to customize and setup the website for your customers.
You’ll realize, most customers just want a simple website that functions across all devices, looks professional, as well as a dashboard where they can easily access and make edits (wp-admin).
Social Media Management
In addition, social media management is another huge sought-after service in 2018.
Most small businesses don’t have the knowledge or man-power to create and manage Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, etc.
You could charge an initial setup fee and then have them on a monthly maintenance package to help them create content.
For example, using your smart phone or a video camera, you could conduct interviews with employees to produce videos for their YouTube channel. Google loves this type of content and will rank it much higher than their competitors if they have it.
Search Engine Optimization
If you don’t know the first thing about Search Engine Optimization get to reading this guide!
The process is not as hard as you may think and targeting local customers, it’s not that hard to get them to rank for specific keywords, especially long-tail specific phrases.
If they’re using WordPress you can satisfy all the on-page SEO elements using free plugins such as Yoast SEO.
Also, if you’re going with NameHero as your provider, you’re already going to have the advantage of fast page load times as well as SSL technology which are both big requirements for Google.
As with social media, most small businesses don’t have the time or man-power to be able to update their website often/add content.
For an added-fee you could offer to update your customer’s website a couple times a month with their most recent sales or a weekly blog from one of their employees.
Content is king and the fuel that powers websites in 2018. Make sure your customer completely understands this and help them to be able to generate it.
You can also find freelance writers on Fiverr and similar services where they can help you produce content.
This list is just to get your brain going with the number of opportunities available to you.
Also consider your talents/passion to where you could be of service.
Like to take pictures? Offer professional imagery. Good at video production? Offer custom videos for their social media.
The sky is really the limit here, the small things you might not even think about, maybe something the customer really values.
Write A Business Plan
Once you’ve determined your niche and the services you plan on offering it’s a good idea to sit down and write out a formal business plan.
This is for your own knowledge so you can plan accordingly while setting up your website.
Don’t over complicate this, look at it like a “road map” that’s going to help you stay organized:
- Who are your customers?
- What are you going to be offering them?
- When are your services going to be available?
- Where are your customers located?
- Why should they use you?
For NameHero, my initial plan looked like this:
- Who are your customers? Individuals and businesses interested in providing reseller web hosting
- What are you going to be offering them? High-speed cloud web hosting packages with free SSL, WHMCS, cPanel, and Cloudflare
- When are your services going to be available? January 2015
- Where are your customers located? United States (initially)
- Why should they use you? We’re offering high-speed cloud web hosting packages for under $40 a month loaded with all the features they need to become successful.
Now this is the short version, I went into a lot more detail when I wrote it out. It was actually a work in progress for many weeks as I found new ideas coming to me as I developed the business.
Consider The Marketing Mix
Before your website is online and ready to start taking orders you need to have an “action plan” when it comes to actually getting customers.
This is where 95% of Entrepreneurs fall off.
The saying “built it and they’ll come” is not true in the web hosting industry. This may have worked back in the 90s but not today. There are simply too many competitors.
You need to come up with a plan how you are going to get your first 100 customers (this is the hardest, after this they start to come in much easier):
- Product – This is the service you’re going to be offering. In your case it’s going to include web hosting but what else?
- Price – You need to set out on some competitive research to determine the price for your services. I have a nice article here that explains the ROI possibilities when it comes to Reseller Hosting. If you’re in a local market, start calling some local services to see what they’re charging. Reach out to your competitors as if you’re a plumber/roofer and ask them how much for a basic website with web hosting. Ask them for specifics. I personally still do this all the time to my competitors. I hit them up on live chat, call them, and ask a lot of details about what they can offer.
- Promotion – Buying ads on Google for the phrase “web hosting” is going to be terribly expensive. Unless you’re sitting on a tremendous bank roll, you’re probably not going to want to venture down this path. But what about going out to businesses face-to-face and explaining the benefits? Personally, I like to think of creative ways that my competition isn’t going to think of. I’ve found that most companies want to take the “easy route” in regards to promotion. Therefore, I look at opportunities they miss, and try an exploit them. For example, this blog post is going to be a several thousand word guide on helping people start a web hosting business. Do you think HostGator or BlueHost is going to take the time to write something like this? Probably not.
- Place – How will you provide the service to the customer? Distribution is key. In your case you’re going to have their web hosting on the Internet but are they going to have to set it up themselves or are you going to make an office call to set it up in-front of them? Perhaps you’re going to schedule a face-to-face meeting to get them started. At NameHero we utilize YouTube as a distribution channel where we provide step-by-step guides so we can scale by offering tutorials across the globe.
In my opinion marketing is the biggest part to being successful in any business. It’s my favorite part as there is really no “wrong” or “right” way to go about it.
You basically want to be creative and consistent.
Don’t be scared to go against the grain and be extremely creative in your marketing. When I first started NameHero I went around to web hosting conferences and applied to speak whenever I saw an opening. I also show up at trade shows in a t-shirt that says NameHero sporting full tattoo sleeves. Anything to stand out and set me apart from my competitors.
If you’re not consistent in your marketing you will fail. The “art” of marketing is simple repetition. Nothing makes me want to “face palm” faster when I see someone start a blog only to abandon it the next month. Radio silence has been deemed “the startup killer” and I truly believe this. If your marketing goes quiet, your business WILL fail.
If you can follow these two simple words, you’ll take your business further than you ever thought.
Go Through Our Reseller Training
Armed with your business plan, you’re ready to go through the training we’ve created for you to get you on your way to making money with web hosting.
Regardless your technical knowledge, we’ve produced step-by-step videos that cover your entire business setup from A to Z. Our blog and YouTube channel are also FULL of helpful resources that will help you help your clients with ease.
The following resources are the ones you should go to first, but I would recommend going through the blog and YouTube channel page-by-page and video-by-video:
- Reseller Hosting 101: How To Start Your Own Web Hosting Business (Free Course)
- Resell Hero: The Quick Start Guide To Making Money Reselling Web Hosting (Free eBook)
- How To Create A Web Hosting Business With WordPress (Start To Finish Video Tutorial)
- Name Hero Startup Blog
- Name Hero YouTube Channel
During our training you’ll have the opportunity to select your Reseller hosting package and get your website online.
Don’t Give Up
Finally, it’s very important that you don’t set unrealistic expectations.
No business was built overnight.
NameHero is my seventh successful online business and it’s taken three-years for us to get where we are today; now hosting over 20,000 websites.
The first year is the hardest because you have to get everything I’ve mentioned above in order. You have to sacrifice your time and money before you can start making it.
As long as you’re consistent and put the work in, you will become successful. But you’re only assured failure if you give up.
The Reseller Hosting industry allows you an avenue to create a profitable business from anywhere in the world with very little capital. These type of opportunities only come around every so often, so take advantage of it while you can!
Ryan Gray is the founder and CEO of NameHero, one of the fastest growing independent web hosts in the United States. Ryan has been working online since 1998 and has over two-decades experience in Internet Entrepreneurship.